Caring for your aging loved one

Taking care of them. Taking care of you.

holding handsContributed by: Vijaya Reddy, MD

When it comes to caring for aging loved ones, women play the primary role. In fact, the Family Caregiver Alliance estimates women account for 59 to 75 percent of family or informal caregivers. But balancing work, family and the care of an aging family member can be challenging—both on the caretaker and the person for whom you care. The Women’s Center offers a variety of services that can help both of you live healthier lives.

Helping you understand and manage the aging process

Knowing the differences between “normal” aging and actual health problems can be hard, especially when you find yourself in the new role of caring for an aging love one. It’s also hard to know when to step in and become active in assisting in their healthcare decisions. That’s where we can help. We have a geriatric assessment to help uncover illnesses and conditions that are potentially treatable or chronic. We can also diagnose degenerative mental or physical conditions and provide recommendations for immediate and long-term needs. A geriatric assessment is extremely helpful if your elderly parent is experiencing:

  • problems due to the interaction of multiple medications,
  • frequent falls,
  • memory problems,
  • weight loss,
  • mood changes,
  • urinary incontinence,
  • osteoporosis,
  • frailty, or
  • weakness.

Caregivers also need to make their own health a priority

Taking care of an aging family member or loved one can be physically and emotionally challenging. It often seems like there aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish all of your tasks. At those times, take a deep breath and remind yourself that you can’t stop the impact of a chronic or progressive illness or a debilitating injury on the person for whom you care. There is, though, a great deal that you can do to take responsibility for your own personal well being.

Things like getting proper rest, eating a balanced diet, participating in pleasant activities, and exercising are extremely important to you staying healthy and maintaining life balance. However, if you’ve tried these things and are still experiencing prolonged periods of stress, anxiety, depression, or feelings of being overwhelmed, it may be beneficial to seek help from one of our behavioral health specialists. They will provide you support and offer suggestions to help you cope with your emotions and bring control back to your life.

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